AHLA Foundation Hosts Annual ForWard Conference to Advance Women in Hospitality 

2024 event boasted record attendance  

CHICAGO (May 2, 2024) – AHLA Foundation hosted nearly 1,000 attendees from across the hotel industry at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place for the annual ForWard conference this week. Over three days, industry leaders gathered to share knowledge and hear from dynamic speakers focused on celebrating, championing, and creating community for women in hospitality. 
This year’s conference theme, “Right the Narrative,” centered on the power of storytelling and the importance of amplifying the stories and voices of women in the hotel industry. Keynote speakers during the two-day conference included Shola Richards, founder & CEO of Go Together Global and best-selling author; stand-up comedian, actress, and writer Zainab Johnson; and author Liz Plank, CEO of Liz Plank Productions. The program also featured industry leaders including Julienne Smith, Chief Development Officer at IHG and Chair of the AHLA Foundation Board of Trustees; Kevin Jacobs, Chief Financial Officer and President of Global Development at Hilton and Chairman of AHLA’s Board of Directors; and Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. 

AHLA Foundation hosted breakout sessions with topics ranging from the “unhustle” mindset to the habits of transformational leaders. On the main stage, the event covered topics such as global trends in the hotel industry and the power of advocacy, and heard from next-gen leaders, industry disruptors, leading experts, and more. 

“The reality is, when women in our industry advance, the industry as a whole benefits,” said AHLA Foundation president Anna Blue. “This is an event like no other – the energy and excitement are contagious – and the rapid growth of the ForWard initiative demonstrates the need for spaces that champion and elevate women.” 

During the conference, the Foundation also announced the launch of its “Move Hospitality ForWard” campaign. Proceeds from this six-week giving campaign will support the ForWard initiative, which represents an industry-wide effort to support the amplification and advancement of women in the hotel industry through curated programs and events like the annual ForWard conference. To support the campaign, donate here

About AHLA Foundation    

The AHLA Foundation, the charitable arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, works to support the hotel and lodging industry’s greatest asset – our people. By connecting employees, employers, and their communities, we seek to continuously nurture a culture of professional growth and belonging. When the people who work in our industry thrive, the industry thrives along with them. The Foundation is funded by grants and charitable contributions from generous individuals and organizations who want to support individuals seeking opportunities to thrive in the hotel and lodging industry. Learn more at